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The 12 best places for fresh air in Budapest

If you cannot stand the air pollution of the inner city for long, go for a long stroll around the parks. The air is much healthier on the Buda side, with fresh air coming from the mountains and the smog not being able to get stuck on the slopes. While we grew up frolicking through fields, swinging at the park and cruising along on our bikes, as adults, many of us spend most of our time indoors. But all of those hours spent outside were actually good for more than using up our unlimited, childhood energy. As it turns out, science shows that some fresh air really will do you good. Get energized and connect with nature!

1. Normafa

A spot frequented by denizens of Budapest in the Buda hills,Normafa is known for its panoramic scenery and fresh air. It is located on Svábhegy and is close to Jánoshegy, the highest point in Budapest. The name is derived from the name of a tree, the “Norma tree.” Traditionally the beech tree was planted by King Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century. The name stuck when performers from the Hungarian National Theater visited it, where they performed Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma.


1121 Normafa

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2. Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long island, 500 metres (550 yards) wide, (0.965 km2 (238 acres) in area) in the middle of the Danube in central Budapest.The island is mostly covered by landscape parks, and is a popular recreational area. Its medieval ruins are reminders of its importance in the Middle Ages as a religious centre. The island spans the area between the Margaret Bridge (south) and the Árpád Bridge (north). Before the 14th century the island was called Insula leporum (Island of Rabbits). Administratively Margaret Island used to belong to the 13th district until 2013. Now it is directly under the control of the city. There is a running track around the island with a 5313 meters distance popular among the fit zone fanatics.

Margaret Island

1138 Budapest, Margitsziget

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3. Gellért Hill

Gellért Hill is a 235 m (771 ft) high hill overlooking the Danube.  Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. The famous Hotel Gellért and the Gellért Baths can be found in Gellért Square at the foot of the hill, next to Liberty Bridge. The Gellért Hill Cave is located within the hill, facing toward Hotel Gellért and the Danube River. At the top of the hill is the Citadella (Citadel), from which a view is available down both directions of the Danube.

Gellért Hill

1118 Gellért-hegy

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4. Citadella Sétány

The Citadella is the fortification located upon the top of Gellért Hill. From the top of the Citadel, a panoramic view is available of the city, the Danube and its eight bridges. Put your snickers on and start walking all the way up opposite Hotel Gellért. The view is worth the long stroll, but you can also hop on a double decker sightseeing bus you can reach in Deák Square.

Statue of Liberty and the Citadel

1118 Budapest, Gellérthegy, Citadella sétány 1.

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5. Feneketlen-tó

Lake Feneketlen aka “Lake Bottomless” was formed in 1877, when clay was removed from the site to supply a brick factory that was situated at nearby Kosztolányi Dezső tér. The lake’s water quality in the 1980s began to deteriorate, until a water circulation device was built. The lake today is a popular urban place for fishing.

Lake Feneketlen

1114 Budapest, Feneketlen-tó

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6. Olimpia park

A secret park hiding in the middle of the city, where you can enjoy the views of the Danube and the Buda side and you can stroll all the way down to the Parliament or even reach the city center on foot. There is an amazing playground with a boat-shaped climbing complex, bridges, passageways, stairs, slides, swings. You can take a close look of the Olympic gold medal wall, the Olympic Flame Monument and the five-ring symbol statue.

Olimpia Park

1055 Olimpia park

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7. Városmajor

The area had been parked in the 1780s, planted with thousands of trees, the last one from that batch was allegedly cut in 1989.

The park itself has a runway, there is an open-air gym, table tennis, football courts, and even a tennis wall so you can not be excused if you are alone. An American-style outdoor gym and a parkour field is also around, but if you feel like chilling out it is totally fair if you just sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine or watch the oldies play chess.

Where? District 12

Budapesti Cogwheels railway

1121 Városmajor

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8. Károlyi-kert

The Karoly Garden is a tiny oasis in the middle of the urban downtown. Many people do not even know about it’s existence, but it is just a few steps from one of Pest’s busiest nodes in Astoria. Walk a minute on the Museum Boulevard to Ferenczy István Street, then turn right at the gate of the main entrance. This is the oldest garden of Budapest, a French-style hidden gem.

Károlyi-kert (Károlyi Garden)

1053 Károlyi Mihály utca 16.

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9. City Park

City Park is the largest park in Budapest. The first trees and walkways were established here in 1751. In the first decades of the 19th century a park was created, which became the first public park in the world. In 1896 the Millennium Celebrations took place here, leaving many attractions behind. The Budapest Zoo, the Capital Circus, the Museum of Transport, the legendary Gundel Restaurant and the famous Széchenyi Baths are also located within City Park. In addition, there are playgrounds, slides, wooden castles and monkey bars in the park to keep the small ones entertained. There are many seasonal activities and you can easily spend a full day here. Getting here from the city center is quick and easy with the Millennium Underground.

City Park

1146 Budapest, Kós Károly sétány

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10. Elizabeth Lookout

The Elizabeth Lookout is a historic lookout tower on János-hegy above Budapest. Built in 1911, the tower was named after Empress Elisabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Frigyes Schulek was the architect. At first, there was a low wooden platform, which was demolished. After that, Frederick Gluck had an idea, to raise a stone tower and then he started gathering investors for the project. The construction started in 1908 and Paul Kluczinger was the construction manager. The tower was built from limestone. The lookout named after Queen Elizabeth, who visited the mountain in 1882. You can enjoy an amazing view of the city, if you feel like you are sporty enough rent a bike or put your running shoes on to enjoy the rewarding view from the highest point of Budapest at 527 m!

Where? District 12

11. Pasaréti tér

Pasarét is a neighbourhood area favoured for it’s Bauhaus buildings. Villas in Napraforgó utca (Napraforgó utca 1-22). representatives the modern architecture style made a proposal to the Budapest Public Works Council to have a whole street designed by the best architects, based on an example in Stuttgart. There are altogether 22 villas, with a creek called Devil’s Trench on one side. Although some of the houses have been rebuilt since then, the original character was maintained nearly everywhere.  As the forest is close by, bring your hiking shoes and enjoy strolling further in the woods.

Where? District 2

12. Millenáris park

A former industrial site in Buda, now with a modern cultural complex with exhibition halls, a large park with a pond and awesome custom-built playgrounds. A great outdoor place for kids, there is an event hall called Teátrum for plays, concerts and other performances.

Where? District 2.

Photo: Pixabay

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